The association between low vitamin D and depressive disorders

Mol Psychiatry. 2014 Apr;19(4):444-51. doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.36. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that hypovitaminosis D is associated with depression but epidemiological evidence is limited. We investigated the association between depressive disorders and related clinical characteristics with blood concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] in a large cohort. The sample consisted of participants (aged 18-65 years) from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) with a current (N=1102) or remitted (N=790) depressive disorder (major depressive disorder, dysthymia) defined according to DSM-IV criteria, and healthy controls (N=494). Serum levels of 25(OH)D measured and analyzed in multivariate analyses adjusting for sociodemographics, sunlight, urbanization, lifestyle and health. Of the sample, 33.6% had deficient or insufficient serum 25(OH)D (<50 nmol l(-1)). As compared with controls, lower 25(OH)D levels were found in participants with current depression (P=0.001, Cohen's d=0.21), particularly in those with the most severe symptoms (P=0.001, Cohen's d=0.44). In currently depressed persons, 25(OH)D was inversely associated with symptom severity (β=-0.19, s.e.=0.07, P=0.003) suggesting a dose-response gradient, and with risk (relative risk=0.90, 95% confidence interval=0.82-0.99, P=0.03) of having a depressive disorders at 2-year follow-up. This large cohort study indicates that low levels of 25(OH)D were associated to the presence and severity of depressive disorder suggesting that hypovitaminosis D may represent an underlying biological vulnerability for depression. Future studies should elucidate whether-the highly prevalent-hypovitaminosis D could be cost-effectively treated as part of preventive or treatment interventions for depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D